• Paige West

    Professor of Anthropology at Barnard College and Columbia University
    Anthropology, Barnard College
    MILBANK 411, New York NY 10027


    Paige West joined the faculty in 2001, the year after earning her Ph.D. in cultural and environmental anthropology at Rutgers University. Her broad scholarly interest is the relationship between societies and their environments. More specifically, she has written about the linkages between environmental conservation and international development, the material and symbolic ways in which the natural world is lived and produced, the aesthetics and poetics of human social relations with nature, the creation of commodities and practices of consumption, and most recently the relationship between global accumulation and local dispossessions. Since the mid 1990s she has worked with indigenous people in Papua New Guinea and their many interlocutors. 

    Dr. West has two current research projects. The first focuses on epistemic practice and ontological proposition as they are related to climate change and involves work with people living in island communities, scientists studying global warming, and politicians and policy makers in three countries. The second focuses on the relationship between dispossession and material culture and pays special attention to Malagan objects from New Ireland, Papua New Guinea. 


    In addition to her academic work, Dr. West is the co-founder, and a board member, of the PNG Institute of Biological Research, a small NGO dedicated to building academic opportunities for research in Papua New Guinea by Papua New Guineans. Dr. West is also the co-founder of the Roviana Solwara Skul, a school in Papua New Guinea dedicated to teaching at the nexus of indigenous knowledge and western scientific knowledge. 


    Finally, Dr. West is the founder and editor of the journal Environment and Society (http://www.envirosociety.org). You can find her personal website here: http://paige-west.com


    Dr. West’s books are Dispossession and the Environment: Rhetoric and Inequality in Papua New Guinea. (Sep. 2016, Columbia University Press), From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive: The World of Coffee from Papua New Guinea (2012, Duke University Press), and Conservation is our Government now: The Politics of Ecology in Papua New Guinea (2006, Duke University Press). 

    She is also the co-editor of Tropical Forests of Oceania: Anthropological Perspectives (2015, Australian National University Press), Virtualism, Governance and Practice (2009, Berghahn Books), and Against the Grain: The Vayda Tradition in Human Ecology and Ecological Anthropology (2008, Lexington Books). A few of her recent scholarly papers are:


    2015. Anthropological Indeterminancy. HAU: The Journal of Ethnographic Theory.  5(1) 454 – 458.

    2014. Changing the Intellectual Climate. Nature Climate Change 4, 763-768. (co-authored) 

    2014. "Such A Site for Play, This Edge": Surfing, Tourism and Modernist Fantasy in Papua New Guinea.The Contemporary Pacific 26 (2). 

    2013. Place, Equity and Earth Stewardship in the Anthropocene, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 11(7): 341-347. (co-authored) 

    2012. Globalization, Place, and Theory in Anthropology. Anthropology Now. Winter, Pp 97-108

    2012. Averting biodiversity collapse in tropical forest protected areas. Nature, 489, 290-294. (co-authored) 

    2010. Making The Market: Specialty Coffee, Generational Pitches, and Papua New Guinea.  Antipode. 42  (3) 690 – 718.

    2008. Scientific Tourism: Imagining, Experiencing, and Portraying Environment and Society in Papua New Guinea, Current Anthropology. (with comments and reply) 49 (4): 597-626.

    2008.  Seeing (and Doing) Conservation Through a Cultural Lenses, Environmental Management 45:5–18. (co-authored) 

    2006. Some Unexpected Consequences of Protected Areas: An Anthropological Perspective.Conservation Biology 20 (3):609-616.

    2006. Parks and Peoples: The Social Effects of Protected Areas. Annual Review of Anthropology  20 (3):609-616. (co-authored) 

    2006. Environmental Conservation and Mining: Between Experience and Expectation in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. The Contemporary Pacific 18 (2):295-313.

    2005. Translation, Value, and Space: Theorizing an Ethnographic and Engaged Environmental Anthropology. American Anthropologist 107 (4):632-642.

    2005. Holding the Story Forever: The Aesthetics of Ethnographic Labor. Anthropological Forum 15 (3):267-275.

    2004. Getting Away From It All? Ecotourism and Authenticity (with commentary and reply). Current Anthropology 45 (4):483-498. (co-authored) 

    2003. Knowing the Fight: The Politics of Conservation in Papua New Guinea. Anthropology in Action: Journal for Applied Anthropology in Policy and Practice 10 (2):38-45.

    2001. Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations and the Nature of Ethnographic Inquiry. Social Analysis 45 (2):55-77.